The No. 18 Sam Houston State Bearkats matched up against the No. 13 University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns Friday night in the first game of a weekend series at Don Sanders Stadium. The Kats could not get active on the bases as the team fell 2-0.
Senior Heath Donica took the mound for the Kats, and much like his first start last week, SHSU once again found themselves in a pitching duel throughout the game.
“It’s a Friday night tilt,” head coach Matt Deggs said “Two great arms going after it, that’s what you get on a Friday night, especially early in the year, and Gunner is as good as it gets.”
Donica’s second outing did not go quite as smooth as his 14 strikeout performance against Nevada last Friday.. After allowing just one base runner in the first, and getting the first two batters of the second inning fairly quickly, the Ragin’ Cajuns put some pressure on Donica. Three straight singles loaded the bases for Louisiana, and a hit batter on the ensuing at bat led to a run. However, Donica struck out the following batter, which caused the Ragin’ Cajuns to strand the bases loaded.
After the second, Donica was able to find a rhythm against the Louisiana lineup, and settled down quickly. However, Louisiana junior pitcher Gunner Leger was great right from the beginning. Allowing just two base runners through the first five, Leger pounded the strike zone time and time again, and was able to get Bearkat batters out early in the count, throwing just 51 pitches, with 41 being strikes.
In the middle innings Donica was able to match Leger pitch for pitch, as he made quick work of Ragin’ Cajun batters. Donica finished his night with 11 strikeouts and allowed just four hits and one run through seven innings.
“I found my sinker,” Donica said of his pitching in the middle innings. “Going through a game you start to really feel what you have going for you, and that was something that was going for me.”
Leger on the other hand, finished his outing after just six innings, allowing only two hits; no runs and six strike outs on just 66 pitches. Leger was replaced by senior pitcher Colton Lee, who threw six straight balls before junior closer Dylan Moore took the mound for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
The Bearkats had opportunities to score in both the sixth and seventh innings, but two outstanding catches by Louisiana left fielder Kennon Fontenot saved a run in each.
After the seventh inning, junior closer Dylan Moore settled into the game, making quick work of the Bearkats. In the ninth Moore got an insurance run, as a single by freshman outfielder Todd Lott brought in the second run of the night to extend the Ragin’ Cajun lead to 2-0 in the top of the ninth. Moore allowed just one runner on base in the bottom half of the final inning.
The Bearkats had their opportunities, getting the leadoff man on base four times, but just could not capitalize. The Bearkats will continue their three game series with the Ragin’ Cajuns on Saturday in game two.
First pitch is set for 3 p.m. at Don Sanders Stadium.